Trump threatens Iran with "obliteration" after "ignorant and insulting statement"

Trump shot back after Iran lashed out at the White House for imposing heavy sanctions on its supreme leader

Published June 25, 2019 3:38PM (EDT)

 (AP/Susan Walsh)
(AP/Susan Walsh)

President Donald Trump threatened Iran with "obliteration" mere hours after Hassan Rouhani, the Gulf country's president, said the White House is "afflicted by mental retardation."

In a series of fiery tweets, Trump shot back at the Iranian leader after he lashed out at the White House in the wake of the administration's decision on Monday to levy fresh sanctions targeting Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his associates.

Rohani on Tuesday said the sanctions were "idiotic" and closed the doors on chances of a diplomatic solution. Trump, in response, argued that Iran's leaders don't "understand reality" or how to be "nice" and compassionate. He also criticized the country's leaders for spending "all of its money on terror."

"Iran's very ignorant and insulting statement, put out today, only shows that they do not understand reality," the president wrote. "Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force."

"In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration," Trump continued. "No more John Jerry & Obama!"

The president's national security adviser, John Bolton, spoke earlier Tuesday about U.S.-Iran relations at a summit in Jerusalem. Bolton reportedly claimed Trump is open to negotiations and "all that Iran needs to do is walk through that open door."

Later, Bolton reportedly said "all options remained on the table" if Iran exceeds the uranium enrichment threshold underlined in the 2015 atomic accord that Trump abandoned last year. He said it would be a "very serious mistake for Iran to ignore those limits." The longtime Iran hawk said Iran "should give up their pursuit of deliverable nuclear weapons."

Iran said it will soon exceed the 300 kilograms limit of low-enriched uranium by June 27, in violation of the agreement, the Associated Press reported.

The administration's decision to levy sanctions against the supreme leader came several days after Iran downed a U.S. surveillance drone. The two adversaries gave conflicting accounts over where the drone had been shot down, although both countries agreed that Iran had shot down the drone. Tehran maintained that the aircraft had entered its airspace, while U.S. Central Command denied that assertion, arguing that the aircraft fell in international waters.

Trump said Friday that the U.S. military "cocked and loaded" to retaliate against Iran, but he called off the operation at the last minute after learning of expected Iranian casualties.

The strike came amid escalating tensions between the two nations. American officials accused Iran last week for conducting attacks against two oil tankers in the the same area. Trump himself last week blamed Iran for the tanker attacks, telling Fox News, "It was them that did it."

Iran has denied the accusations. The country's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, responded to accusations from U.S. officials by tweeting that the Trump administration "immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran [without] a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence."

In an earlier tweet about the tanker attacks, Zarif pointed out that the attacks on the tankers, one of which is owned by a Japanese shipping company, occurred as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, which he described as "extensive and friendly talks."

"Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired," he wrote.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced earlier this month that the U.S. would send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East to address what he described as "air, naval and ground-based threats."

By Shira Tarlo

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